GuildPortal Dev Blog

Updates from Aaron Lewis, GuildPortal Code Monkey

Posted 7/13/2012 4:12 PM by Aaron Lewis. 393097 reads. Share:

Here are the highlights from this week's update:
  • One-on-one chat now works across public-side (meaning just browsing around GuildPortal), blogs, and guild pages. You'll be notified of chat requests no matter where you are.
  • Posts now have a link along the bottom for forum moderators/admins that lets them move the post to another forum/topic of their choosing.
  • Inbox messages now show up on the /m (mobile) versions of your sites.
  • The guild chat link again displays the count of people in chat.
  • A new widget, called "Available Achievements and Medals," has gone live. It lists the achievements from the guild that members may earn, medals they may be awarded, and also GuildPortal achievements that are available.
  • The "Wall" and "About Me" links are now back on the profile page.
  • Some more work has been put into the Dev Status pages. Next week's milestone is empty, but that just because this week's kept me busy up until the very end. I'll be filling it in on Monday.
  • RSS links have been added to the issue comments so you can subscribe and be notified when issues you are interested have updates to their status.
  • The member editor's "Characters" tab for each member now displays a link indicating whether that character is blocked from display on the roster. It also allows you to toggle block status.
  • The member editor grid displays more rows now.
  • Achievements (all three kinds) now display on the "About Me" page of member blog sites.
  • The roster blocks that were mysteriously applying themselves to innocent victims have been slain.
  • A bug causing the forum moderators editor to come up blank has been fixed.
That's all for now!

Posted 5/4/2012 5:38 PM by Aaron Lewis. 141930 reads. Share:

Today's update included mostly bug squishes. Here's some of what went live:
  • Tera game news is now up and running with a feed.
  • Tera Server Status, a new widget, is available.
  • You can now post drafts to your blog, and come back to finish/publish them later.
  • Welcome letters are now sent out when they should be.
  • Some didn't like the in-frame windows when editing content, instead preferring actual pop-ups instead. There is now an option in the Control Panel's dashboard, under a new tab called "Preferences," to enable pop-ups.
  • Blog links under recent entries will now take you where they should.

Posted 4/18/2012 3:03 PM by Aaron Lewis. 178343 reads. Share:

Going out today:
  • Authenticated RSS feeds (for the guilds that use them) have had their token system changed. You will need to update your links. 
  • Forum read/unread icons sometimes not displaying correctly should be fixed. 
  • The Star Wars: The Old Republic server status widget has been updated to work with the changes they made to their site. 
  • Blog links and posting are now working correctly. 
Now, for the boo-boo. Yesterday, I put a trigger on the Shouts table of the database that fired when a new shout was entered. The idea was, it would take the oldest shouts over the count of 50 and delete them. Kind of a self-cleaning thing, for performance. Only, I pulled the ones to be deleted back in the wrong date order. The result was, the trigger ended up wiping the newest 50 shouts. 

I'm very, very sorry about that. 

Posted 4/16/2012 4:32 PM by Aaron Lewis. 148898 reads. Share:

Today's update includes the following:
  • A rendering fix for the iPhone (things were getting squished!).
  • The addition of tagging functionality to the custom status change notifications for calendar events. You can now include [username], [eventname] and [eventdateandtime] in your notifications, and they will be dynamically replaced in the messages that are sent out to the recipient.
  • A bug that caused the custom emoticons section of the control panel to go all whacky has been fixed.
  • Forum icons now align more towards the top, by the forum title. This will help with forums that have a lot of sub-forums.
  • Sub-forum icons will now show up when viewing them alongside the topics listing of their parent forum.
  • The standard roster will no longer show characters without names.
  • The control panel has been cleaned up a bit.
  • Blogs now support custom CSS + HTML.

Posted 7/15/2011 11:12 AM by Aaron Lewis. 12229 reads. Share:

We've begun using new file storage with this update. All of your existing files are still available at their old location, but newly uploaded files will have URLs that look like /GuildFiles/[your guild ID]/[file name] instead of[your guild id]/filename. This removes the need for your browser to determine a different host's IP ( when loading each image. While you can leave your old files where they are, you could benefit more from this change by copying them back down to your hard drive and re-uploading them. Once you have all references pointing to the old image updated, delete it to free up more of your available file space (also keeps things tidy). To help differentiate between which files you have on the old system and which you have on the new one, I've added a URL column to the Control Panel > File Manager file listing.

For yet more performance gains, we are now using CDNs (content delivery networks) from both Google and Yahoo to serve up the more common Javascript libraries we use. What makes this so great is that those services will automatically route your request for the file(s) to your nearest data center, making it very, very fast. It also takes the burden off GuildPortal, no longer needing to serve up these very common Javascript libraries, instead giving it more resources to dedicate to just your content.

Many support tickets were addressed (and small features tweaked) in this update, as well:
  • The signature generator now saves your preferences. You will no longer need to start from the beginning when using the tool.
  • The signature generator now provides links that you can use in your signatures on other forums/web sites!
  • Associates and higher are now able to upload images directly when using the WYSIWYG editor to post, and then insert that image into the post immediately after.
  • Event/Raid templates now correctly import any custom category they were saved with.
  • Clicking on an entry in the "Recent Blogs" widget will now only open the blog in a new window, instead of opening it in both your current window and a new window.
  • When editing your profile, you will no longer default to the "Casablanca" time zone. Unless that's your time zone, of course.
  • The World of Warcraft server status widget is now back and functioning correctly, now calling an API provided by Blizzard instead of parsing the old server status page.
  • In the Funds widget, guild transactions may now be entered using more than one type of currency at a time.
  • A guild in an alliance that has had a forum shared with them by another guild is now able to set one of their forums as the parent forum of the shared forum.

Posted 2/26/2010 9:31 AM by Aaron Lewis. 6998 reads. Share:

Links to blogs from the most recent blog entries widget, as well as links to your own blog in both the top and side nav areas have been fixed.

Also, upon entering guild chat rooms, you are shown the help command.  When you type it in, you can see the available slash commands for chatting.  Included are sending a sound to the room, listing available sounds, and sending an emote.

Posted 10/8/2009 4:54 PM by Aaron Lewis. 12007 reads. Share:

Lots of stuff included with the code push tonight.  Mostly maintenance:
  • Tooltips added to a bunch of places where they were missing.
  • A javascript bug that was causing tooltips to not show up intermittently has been fixed.
  • A bug that prevented Aion auto-roster integration from working when the guild had under 13 members was fixed.  Pure gremlin stuff, that was.
  • A link to "your blog" has been added to the recent blogs content type.
  • When a page background image was set to centered, the image previously centered itself relative to the browser window, vertically as well as horizontally.  It's not what most people would expect (because it just wasn't right), so it now centers the background image horizontally only.
  • Hovering over game news items now produces a tooltip preview of the contents.
  • The content editor window has been made bigger across the board, thanks to an all-natural, window-enhancing supplement.
  • A new video that explains how to embed tooltips to items, quests, npcs, etc. for many games has been published.

Posted 4/25/2008 12:06 PM by Aaron Lewis. 102978 reads. Share:

It was only 10 months ago that we moved to the .NET 2.0 framework, and this week we're going to be moving up to .NET 3.5.  Aside from productivity improvements that come along with the new features of the latest IDE (Visual Studio 2008), there are a number of enhancements to the underlying framework, as well. AJAX built-in, LINQ, intellisense for JavaScript, etc.  The LINQ and intellisense parts will be helpful in more quickly getting features and bug fixes out onto the production environment.

AJAX and some of the new controls, combined with our recent upgrade of the Q1 2008 Prometheus suite of controls for .NET 3.5, will make it possible to bring more "compelling" user experiences to both the Control Panel (IMO fairly dated and more difficult to use as the features kept getting piled on) and individual content types on the guild pages.  I put the word compelling in quotes because, while marketing people always use that term when describing the user interfaces you'll be able to whip up with their latest tool, I never quite understood its placement.  What, after all, does a treeview compel a person to do?  That is, other than click the nodes on it. 

Beats me!

Anyway, this transition should be a bit smoother than the last one, since we'll be pulling the web servers out of the load balancer one at a time, upgrading to the 3.5 framework, and then pushing the migrated code to the servers.  Once there, we'll do full regression testing on each server to make sure everything's working as expected.  After that, we put the server back into the load balance mix and move to the next.

I think we'll be moving away from the "Service News" type of thing and focus more on keeping the new Change Log current.  Writing news about enhancements to the site is normally done after the fact, and some things that have been done are inevitably left out.  By going the route of the change log, we'll be keeping you up to date on changes as, or before, they're being worked on.  There might be some kind of summarized grouping by time, or by release version, but really, what does the version number mean to anybody anyway?  For us, it's helpful with our source control system, but for end-users, it's odd.  It's like in WoW, you'll hear "oh, that's been that way since v2.4.1041blahblahblah."  What's wrong with, "oh, that's been that way since December?"

I guess the geeks (not excluding myself -- my son will testify to my lack of "coolness") are still allowed to name things!

Speaking of coolness, I'm writing this blog entry using Windows Live Writer.  I was working on the API's to make it possible for people to post to their GuildPortal blogs with richer tools like WLW and others when I realized how long it's been since I updated mine.  It's neat -- you can save a draft locally and publish it to your GP-hosted blog only when you're completely done with it.  Even if you're offline.  The code that GuildPortal needs to make it function with WLW will be going live along with the framework upgrade, sometime over the next week (we're still ironing out the best time based upon bandwidth usage and the availability of caffeine if it ends up being like, really really late).

Makes me wonder about the possibility making other parts of GuildPortal able to disconnect and let you browse forums, post replies, send web-based mail, etc., and then upload what you've done the next time you're connected.  We had an offline forum viewer for a while back in the days of .NET 1.0, but it was a serious dog (the networking code wasn't all there and, honestly, XML containing all the information is too verbose -- we'll probably look at JSON or something more lightweight).

We have been extremely cautious in our moves to new versions of our development tools, servers, frameworks, and just about everything else.  We'd rather put off throwing shinies out there for a bit, if it's a trade-off between that or performance/reliability.  The new version of the framework is very stable, full of goodies, and ready to go. 

It'll also help us justify the ungodly amount Microsoft is charging for licensing! 

We're looking forward to supporting Age of Conan, Warhammer Online, and other hotly-anticipated titles (I only remember those two right at this moment because I'm going nuts waiting for them), enhancing support for games that have been around since the start, and yes, introducing a shiny or two.

As always, thank you for choosing GuildPortal as your guild's home on the web!